The Goldwater Institute has filed a formal appeal that asks the U.S. Supreme Court to permanently strike down the “matching funds” portion of Arizona’s taxpayer-funded campaign finance system. The watchdog group’s appeal in McComish v. Bennett has nationwide implications because similar systems exist in other states.
“The First Amendment requires matching funds to be struck down,” said Nick Dranias, the Goldwater Institute’s director of constitutional studies. “Political speech by one candidate cannot be silenced by the threat of government campaign subsidies to the opposing candidate.”
Matching funds, which allow the state to provide money to publicly financed candidates when their privately funded foes exceed the public allocation, was designed to allow anyone to run for public office.
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld that provision of Arizona law on May 21, but on June 8 the U.S. Supreme Court blocked the decision from taking effect and suspended the use of matching funds until it acts on the appeal that now has been filed. Later decisions in the 2nd and 11th circuit courts of appeal followed the Supreme Court’s lead in the Arizona case, and they struck down similar matching fund provisions in Connecticut and Florida.